From “Time to Say Goodbye” (“Con te partirò”) written by Francesco Sartori (music) and Lucio Quarantotto (lyrics), sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman (English translations following)
Time to say goodbye.
Con te partirò (I’ll go with you)
Paesi che non ho mai (to countries I never)
veduto e vissuto con te, (saw and shared with you,)
adesso sì li vivrò. (now, yes, I shall experience them.)
Con te partirò (I’ll go with you)
su navi per mari (on ships across seas)
che, io lo so, (which, I know,)
no, no, non esistono più; (no, no, exist no longer;)
it’s time to say goodbye.
Con te io li vivrò. (With you I shall experience them.)
I was wearing the black dress again; thus, I knew that the little dribble of liquid that landed on it wouldn’t leave a stain—and, even if it did, it wouldn’t show once it was dry. Of course, I didn’t care anyway. The dress wasn’t something I was planning on wearing again.
“I spilled a little,” I said apologetically, hoping that fact wouldn’t somehow ruin the “spell.”
“Oh—don’t you worry ’bout that,” Holly said with a wink. “I always give about twice as much as needed ’cause the first drink usually ends up spat on the floor.” She laughed. “You did much better than most do.”
“So—uh—this will work? You’re sure?” I asked with a wince as I contemplated whether I should continue sipping the “potion” or just finish it like a shot of hard alcohol.
“It always has before,” Holly assured. “At least, as long as it’s taken no more than a week after,” she lowered her voice, “the sex.”
“But—uh—like I told you, the guy was a fairy,” I said. “And a vampire.”
Holly just shrugged, looking unconcerned. “I don’t see why the potion wouldn’t work.” She leaned in and lowered her voice even more. “Trust me—if the fella had living swimmers, this’ll get ’em. I even added lemon juice to the mix since you said he was a fairy, and they react to that like a vamp to silver.”
“How do you know?” I asked her.
“Because the quadruplets’ mother told Andy that full-blooded fairies have an aversion to iron and lemon. That way, he could keep an eye out to make sure that they didn’t have any,” she paused, “similar allergies.”
“And that’s why you asked if I was allergic to lemons?”
“Yep,” Holly confirmed. “Plus, you said that you’re on the pill—right?”
I nodded. “And it’s the wrong time of the month for me to conceive,” I added. “But I just needed to make sure—what with him and me both being part fairy.”
She nodded. “There’s no harm in being cautious,” she agreed.
I made a mental note to take an iron supplement and pack the rest when I got home. I was thankful that Holly wasn’t shocked or horrified to find out that a fairy-vampire hybrid existed or that I was dumb enough to have had condomless sex with him. Then again, though I didn’t know her well, she’d always seemed like the kind of person who would roll with the punches. And her mind was one of the least judgmental that I’d ever come across.
“And—if your aura is any indication, I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” Holly said after studying me for a moment. “I don’t sense any little one in you. You just don’t have the motherhood glow about you. However, your love aura is real bright right now.”
“You see it?” I asked her, wondering if she could see the light that had finally faded—at least to my eyes, but not to Eric’s—a little before sunrise.
“Your aura?” she asked.
“Sure,” she said. “I see everyone’s. It’s what you might call my witch gift.”
“What does it look like?” I asked with curiosity.
“Like a little haze around everyone. But it can change color with—uh—situation. Pregnant women get a greenish hue around them almost right away. But yours is definitely reddish. That usually indicates that someone is feeling great love.”
“Good to know,” I blushed—probably adding to the red of my aura. After taking a deep breath, I finishing off the truly horrific ‘herbal remedy’ Holly had brought me in one long and agonizing gulp. It was worth it, however. The last thing I needed was an unexpected bundle of joy fathered by the fairy-vampire who wanted to own me.
“I—uh—can’t imagine that you’d want that,” she said, motioning toward the now-empty thermos in my hands, “if you were worried about having a kid with the person that gave you that aura.” She was still speaking quietly, though she needn’t have bothered since we were in a secluded part of the Bellefleur garden.
I sighed. “I made a mistake with Warlow.”
“Is that the fairy-vamp?” she asked.
I nodded. “The truth is that I’m in love with someone else, and from now on, I’m going to be a one vampire woman.” I grinned. “He’s why you’re seeing the red aura.”
“Not Bill—surely!” she protested.
“Definitely not,” I responded.
She smiled. “The blonde? The tall one?”
“Yeah,” I smiled back, glad to be able to tell someone who was truly happy for me. “Eric.”
“He was cute,” she winked.
I wasn’t about to comment on the fact that her definition of “cute” also included Andy Bellefleur.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“His aura was real interestin’,” she teased with a wink.
“You can see vampires’ auras too?” I asked.
“Of course,” she answered, as if it were nothing. “Just so you know—his was red too. With a little golden glow in it. And your auras seemed to want to swirl around together when you were close to each other.”
“By the way—your aura has the exact shade of gold tinging it as his does.” She looked at me knowingly. “I figured it’d just be a matter of time till y’all were together. People with the exact same color like that can’t hide from each other for very long.” She winked and then continued wistfully, “Most folks don’t ever find that.”
I sighed. I wanted to kick myself for almost squandering the gift I’d found with Eric. Instead, I smiled at my friend. “Thanks for telling me all this, Holly.”
“I thought you might like some confirmation,” she said with a shrug. “We all need a little now and then.”
I nodded. I was finally to the point that I didn’t need outside confirmation, but it was nice to have nonetheless. “What about Bill’s aura?” I asked out of curiosity.
“His was always muddled with various colors before. Now it’s gray and still—kind of scary.”
I nodded. That sounded about right.
“So—you said on the phone that you had somethin’ else to talk to me about?” Holly asked as she sat down on a bench and picked a piece of lint off of her black dress. We had snuck out of the Bellefleur house “for some air” so that I could drink the potion. However, Holly’s mind told me that she wasn’t in a hurry to go back in—not at all. Arlene would be busy feeding Mikey for a while, and Portia, apparently, had been “hinting” to Holly for the last half hour that her grandmother Caroline wouldn’t approve if another Bellefleur boy married a “lowly and humble waitress.” Holly had refrained from punching Portia—at least as of yet—only out of respect for Arlene and the solemn occasion. However, she had been contemplating some spells that might leave Portia unable to speak—indefinitely. She’d been glad for the chance to get away from Andy’s overbearing relatives.
“Yeah,” I said. “Thanks for your help already though—with this,” I said, lifting the empty thermos. “But I need your advice on something else too.” I took a deep breath. “My great-grandfather has been sent to some kind of other realm or dimension. I’m not sure what to call it. Would you have any idea how to get him back?”
“Another realm?” Holly asked, her tone a mixture of excitement and wonder.
“Yeah. The entrance to it is in the middle of that old bridge just south of town. The thing is—my great-grandfather is a full-blooded fairy.”
Holly looked both determined and excited. “A full-blooded fairy! Cool! That means that if he wants to get back here, he’ll eventually find a way himself. But I’ll look into it anyway. I know a few older witches that might know more, and I’ll see what I can do. Maybe we can help him along.”
I sighed with relief and took Holly’s hand. “I really appreciate it.” I smiled. “You’re a good person, Holly, and the way that you’ve been helping out Arlene . . . .” I paused. “Well—let me put it this way: I’ve heard all the heads in Bon Temps, and yours is pretty much the nicest one in town.”
She smiled. “Thanks.” There was a moment of silence between us. “Hey. Are you alright, sugar?” she asked.
“I’m okay,” I said.
“Well—just let me know if you need anything else,” she offered kindly.
“Well, could you help me with one last thing—just so that I don’t have to go back in there?” I gestured toward the house. “My shields are pretty shot right now.”
She nodded. “Sure thing.”
“Could you ask Arlene, Andy, Lafayette, and Sam and meet me out here in twenty minutes or so? And could you come back too? I need to tell y’all about something important.”
Holly nodded. “Sure, hon. I think I can do that.” She winked. “By then, Portia and Caroline will have made us all need to take a break.”
I took her hand and squeezed it. “Thanks.”
She smiled and got up to go back into the house. I smiled too. She really was a good person—good for the whole town and really good for Andy too.
I glanced at my watch. It was a little after noon. Terry’s funeral had begun at 10:00, and I really needed to be on the road by 1:30.
But I had a lot that I needed to do before then. Oh—my physical packing had been completed quickly. I was taking only one bag, full of mostly nondescript clothing and just a picture or two—nothing anyone would notice was missing. I’d decided to leave Gran’s and my “treasures” in the attic—in the care of the house.
It had taken longer to wash Eric’s clothing to get the dirt from Nora’s grave off of them than it had for me to decide what to take with me. All I really needed, after all, was the Viking in the cubby.
I sighed and closed my eyes. It had been a night and a day for saying goodbyes. And there were more coming.
Terry’s funeral had been a lovely mixture of heartfelt words and ceremony, ending with a twenty-one gun salute. All told, the service had lasted for thirty-eight minutes.
I sighed again. Thirty-eight minutes to say goodbye to a life that had been a part of mine for many years. I’d liked Terry from the start; his mind may have been bruised from war, but it was kind and straightforward—honorable.
I sat heavily onto a bench in the garden, focusing what was left of my shields on protecting me from all the thoughts coming from the Bellefleur house. There were a mixture of grief and pettiness—a horrifying combination.
The hardest part of being a telepath was being around people when their emotions were ratcheted up. It was as if their thoughts and feelings were projected onto a particular target—in this case: me. Thus, the usual din of thoughts that I got from individuals became much denser—more concentrated.
But none of that had been as difficult as hearing Arlene’s thoughts as Terry’s casket was lowered into the ground. Her mind was awhirl with grief and anger. Terry had—almost certainly—asked someone to kill him because of the things that had happened to him during his time in the military, as well as because of the “monsters” that still followed him. He’d left a huge life insurance policy for Arlene, but she could think only about the fact that she’d exchange every penny of it for one more hour with Terry.
I sighed and thought about Terry’s decision. Was it—in the end—that different from Godric’s has been? They’d both reached the limit of what they could bear, and they’d both chosen to end their lives. I could see it from their side in a way. But I also thought about what was left behind in the wake of their deaths. Eric—despite seeming to be so strong—had been shattered by Godric’s meeting the sun. And Arlene and her children would always hurt because of Terry’s choice.
I brushed away a tear and said a silent prayer. I prayed that Terry’s soul was finally at peace. And I prayed that Arlene, Lisa, Coby, and Mikey would be “okay” eventually.
I decided to slip off my shoes for a few minutes. The high heels I was wearing were not doing my feet any favors; in fact, if I’d not had vampire blood just a few hours before, I’m sure that I would have had blisters by now. I smiled. Then again, according to Eric, the blood he’d given me would be much too busy attending to our strengthening bond to be dealing with my sore feet.
I closed my eyes and let myself enjoy the memory of Eric and my second blood exchange, which had led to another amazing and surreal experience. Instead of snow and a bed with furs, however, we had been “transported” to a meadow full of wildflowers and monarch butterflies. There, we’d made love for what seemed to be hours but actually turned out to be only minutes of “real time.”
When we “came back to ourselves,” we were in the cubby, where we’d decided—for the sake of nostalgia—to make our second exchange. If things went as planned, the third couldn’t take place there, so we’d decided to take advantage while we could. Plus it was safer since we’d had no idea what the effects of our second blood-swap might be.
After our exchange and the resulting “trip” we took, Eric made some calls with one of the disposable phones he’d stashed in the cubby. As he did, he added another few elements to his plan—our plan now. And then we cuddled, holding each other as we went over the plan a few more times, adding and augmenting as needed.
It was risky and we’d both be giving up a lot, but there was a lot more to be gained.
I pulled out my phone and called Alcide.
“Hey,” I said when he answered after two rings, “is everything going okay?”
“Yes,” he answered a bit gruffly. “I’m on my way there now, but,” he paused.
“But?” I asked.
“Are you sure about all of this? I mean really sure?”
“Yes,” I said simply. Alcide had called and woken me up only an hour after dawn that morning, so I’d gotten very little sleep. Luckily a mixture of coffee and vampire blood—combined with a whole lot of nerves—seemed to be the perfect combination for keeping me awake and on my toes.
“There are other ways to break free from them,” he said. I could hear the stiffness in his tone—and a little judgment too.
“We went over all this earlier,” I said, trying to hold onto my patience.
“I know,” he responded, “but we’re talking about Northman here. Sookie, don’t do this.”
“I love him. And if this works, I’m certain that I’ll be happy, Alcide. Really happy. Maybe for the first time in my life.”
He sighed deeply—the kind of sigh that signaled disappointed acceptance. “Okay then. But I’m doing all this for you and not for him.”
I smiled. “I know. And I love you for it.”
“But not like you love him,” he said, the regret clear in his voice.
Alcide and I had had a few starts and stops, but I knew that it could have never worked out with us. His brain still loved Debbie Pelt, and mine had never wanted him in the same way I wanted Eric.
“I’m sorry, but no,” I confirmed.
Again, he sighed out his acceptance—his resignation. “I’ll see you at around 5:00 then,” he said.
“Thanks, Alcide. Really—thank you.”
“It’s nothing, cher.”
“No,” I said, “it’s a lot. It’s everything. You have my life in your hands right now. His too.”
There was another sigh from his end.
“I know,” he said. “See you soon.”
I nodded, though he wouldn’t be able to see it. “See you soon.”
As I hung up the phone, I smiled a little. Eric and I had needed help, and he’d trusted my input when I’d suggested Alcide. Knowing that Alcide would need time to collect everything we needed, Eric had called him before our second exchange. After Alcide had initially told Eric to ‘fuck off,’ I’d talked to him and he’d begrudgingly agreed, despite his reservations over Eric and “the plan.” I’d not been surprised in the least when he’d called after dawn to make sure I wasn’t being compelled by Eric against my will. That conversation had taken an unpleasant thirty minutes, but Alcide had finally accepted that I wasn’t going to change my mind.
“Hey, cher,” Sam said from behind me, interrupting my thoughts.
I took a deep breath. It was time for more goodbyes.